Geneva (PRWEB UK) 12 December 2013
UNITAID welcomes the announcement that yet another major pharmaceutical company has joined the Medicines Patent Pool, this time Bristol Myers Squibb, which finalized an agreement today that will make the vital HIV medicine Atazanavir more widely available in developing countries.
“As the founder and the sole funder of the Medicines Patent Pool, UNITAID is delighted another licensing agreement has been obtained,” said Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chairman of the UNITAID Executive Board. “This agreement will open the market for generic manufacturers to produce affordable versions of atazanavir in 110 developing countries.”
People on HIV treatment eventually need more potent drug combinations known as second-line treatment when they develop side effects or become infected with a drug resistant virus. Atazanavir is a key component of second-line medicines preferred by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This agreement is particularly timely as some of the almost 10 million people who are now on HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries will need to make the switch soon to second-line medicines,” said Dr Denis Broun, UNITAID Executive Director. “Moreover, UNITAID’s roll-out of better monitoring technology means more people will be diagnosed as needing second-line treatment. More affordable, generic versions of these medicines are essential to meet this rising demand and enable improved treatment.”
This agreement builds on UNITAID’s intervention to bring down the price of second-line medicines. In 2011 UNITAID helped launch the first generic version of Atazanavir, in a one-pill-a-day version combined with the Antiretroviral ritonavir. These pills do not require refrigeration, making them ideal for use in low-income countries.
“Now we look forward to more companies joining the Medicines Patent Pool with other vital HIV products,” concluded Dr Douste-Blazy.